MA Writing for Script & Screen: reflexive blog week 5

So, this week we studied a 19 point breakdown (see below).

I initially rebelled.

But then I thought, having spent 10 years getting to grips with 3 Act Structure and The Hero’s Journey – as well as John Truby’s teaching on moral story world and moral argument – the problem of Act 2 still existed.

It’s one thing to know 3 act structure or The Hero’s Journey. To know the beats. (And don’t forget the eight sequence approach). But there’s still a lot of Act 2 to fill. So I was ready to embrace any set of rules or any system that allows me to breakdown a screenplay into smaller parts to make its writing more doable.

Yet in this 19 point approach my hackles raised when I realized there was no midpoint. Having spent the last two weeks reading John Yorke’s Into the Woods which advocates a 5 act structure (which I am still getting to grips with) and stresses the importance of a midpoint – to write a 19 point breakdown without a midpoint seemed like it was missing something.

Can’t we have 20 points and have a midpoint?!

Nevertheless, I wrote my short film story according to this 19 point structure and was shocked to discover the story / treatment I have been working on for the last 4 weeks fit the 19 point structure perfectly.

It felt like a gift from God!

Having a structure laid out to follow the inner journey (need) and a separate thread for the outer journey I found immensely helpful.

And it seemed to fit organically.

How weird.

So, I wrote my step outline, not according to my treatment, but according to this 19 point structure.

The question still remains about the midpoint. I take my mark from Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, who, in 127 Hours (dir. Danny Boyle, screenplay Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy), use the midpoint as a mirror for the climax at exactly 45 mins in (of 90 mins).

3 Act Structure in 127 Hours

It is the moment Aaron first considers using the knife to free himself. The 3 act structure is clear. John Yorke notes the same strict adherence to a midpoint in Being John Malkovich (dir. Spike Jonze, screenplay Charlie Kaufman) which happens at exactly 54 mins (of 108).

  • Into the Woods p243

So, where is my midpoint? This is the terror and excitement of my week ahead.

What do you think?

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